The Thrifty Prepper

This guest post is by Lynn and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .

Unfortunately, I am a lot newer to prepping than I would like to admit. That feeling in your gut that something just isn’t right has been there for a while before I finally listened. Now my family struggles to make up for lost time. I have become like a machine in the last years attempting to streamline and speed our progress to feeling like we at least are somewhat “set”. My husband asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day and I told him an AK-47 was what I wanted the most.

He delivered after selling, scrimping and saving. I was surprised and thrilled. I have gone from being someone who was nervous even having a loaded gun in the house, to someone who is very capable with my weapon. A bad experience with firearms in my late teens made me a little gun-shy (pun intended) even though I grew up in a family that would target practice once a week. Thank god for muscle memory.

I realize that I am far behind most of you as wisdom goes but can offer some information. I have rapidly been reading, watching and gathering as much knowledge as fast as possible. One thing that I have a gift for that may be of some use to readers are my skills with shopping. By utilizing coupons and watching sales, I have been able to rapidly build up a stockpile.

Why I realize many of us may be skittish when it comes to social media, I also know what an excellent tool it can be when it comes to saving money. On Facebook, I have liked sites such as The Frugal Family, Motherhood on a Dime and Thrifty Wifey and when the deals are posted, they scroll across my newsfeed. For instance, today I was able to score 6 -24 packs of Crayola Crayons for .29 each.

Less money on school supplies, stocking stuffers, birthday presents equals more money in the pocket for preps. Kroger’s this week has buy 10 save 5 this week. I will purchase 10 gallons of water for 4.90!

Take advantage of the programs that many drug stores offer. I used to just assume drug stores were to expense to shop at. CVS and Walgreens (the two main drug stores in my area) are like gold mines. They both offer reward programs with Extrabucks being at CVS and Register Rewards available at Walgreens. The websites I mention above are excellent sources that basically spell out which coupon is needed to get the deal you are after.

Sometimes a coupon is not even needed. For example, CVS and Walgreens both will offer contact solution for 8.99 with 8.99 EB or RR back. That equals free! You pay for the product and then upon check out are issued the 8.99 back to be used in the store. I haven’t bought contact solution in two years but have 5 boxes sitting in our pantry/store in the basement. Start looking around to find your favorite sites that fit your situation the best.

I have used coupons/store deals to build up three impressive first aid kits for virtually nothing. I even got the actual first aid kits for free by purchasing two Johnson and Johnson products (at a great discount + coupons). Study sales cycles and get a feel for when things will go on sale next. Walgreens frequently has baking soda and salt on sale for .59 each approximately one a month. Buy the limit and build your pantry up.

You can easily search “Sale Cycles” on the net and find when the most optimal time to buy any given item is. I am on a first name basis with the manager at several stores in my hometown. They help me out so much by pointing me to deals I may have missed and making sure I get a rain check for any items they may not have in stock. I am always polite and thankful and they appreciate it and in return they look out for me.

So get that Sunday Paper and pull those ads/coupons and sit down and make the deals work for you! There are also excellent coupon sites on the web where you can print out coupons as well. and are two of the best. Also, even Sam’s club has jumped in with the preppersJ. They now sell Auguson Farms products at great prices and allow us to build up our stores quickly. Less money on beans and more money on ammo is working out pretty well for us.

Amazon is another great asset. While of us may not have a “Kindle”, you can download the Kindle for PC free and those sites I mentioned above are always alerting me to free books. I have gotten books on how to make soap, can, garden, survival medicine, you name it! While I realize these tools would not be available in a grid down situation, I print or write out the most important information and put it together in a grab and go form.

I have a young daughter and she out grows shoes and clothes as fast as we guy them. Yard sales, Thrift stores and Goodwill are a godsend in these times. When I find something at a yard sale that is three sizes too big but in great shape for the right price, I snatch it up and put it a labeled bin with the size on the side. We have picked up a brand new camping cookware set at a yard sale for only 5.00! Our major scores have also been hand crank grinders, old-fashioned wash boards, iron skillets and camping gear.

We have been able to accelerate the rate of our prepping by utilizing these sales to gather things that we could never afford to pay full price for. Keep a list of things you are looking for and carry it with you. I almost believe it wills the item to you. Several times I have set out thinking, I hope I can find some shoes for our girl only to happen upon a yard sale with shoes in her size or one size bigger to get us through the school year that are in fantastic shape! I have happened upon a nice dehydrator in this same fashion as well as affordable second hand tools.

In part of my education, I follow my grandma and grandpa around as they can and garden and they patiently explain to me exactly what they are doing and why. I have also taken to watching documentaries that have changed and challenged me in ways I can’t even explain. If you have not already viewed the documentaries below, they are what shook me awake and I am in complete awe of what our great country is coming to.

Highly recommended and if you are a Netflix customer, free to watch.

We are working on a plan to acquire land and unfortunately, that is a slow process. My biggest fear is looking into my daughter’s eyes and not being able to help her. I know that is not something that needs to be explained to most parents. I learn daily from you all here on this blog and am so thankful for the valuable information that you all share. Thank you for reading.

M.D. Adds : you might also find this post helpful “Prepping on the cheap with coupons!”

This contest will end on October 10 2012 – prizes include:

  • First Place : $100 Cash.
  • Second Place : $50 Cash.
  • Third Place : $25 Cash.

Contest ends on October 10 2012.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Thanks for the advise. Every time you can save money on an item, the more items you get to bring home.

  2. axelsteve says:

    I buy stuff at yard sales and thrift stores. I bought 2 coleman 2 burner stoves at yard sales. I paid 2 dollars for one and 10 dollars for the other one. I bought a womak gunsafe for 10 dollars at a yard sale. Last month I bought 225 rounds of 22 lr and 4 lbs of pinto beans and 4 packets of chili mix with proceedes of my recycling. Not a great amount but it adds up.

  3. Thrift stores are one of my favorite places for bargain prepping. I have picked up so much valuable stuff at next to nothing prices. I acquired a lot of my camping gear from there, electronics, my SHTF coffee pot, and this weekend we picked up some pretty good hand tools.

  4. Nice article, Lynn. Good luck in the contest!

  5. Lynn
    We are all Newbie’s.
    There are always going to be those ahead of us.

  6. Encourager says:

    Thanks for the article, Lynn.
    Not sure where I read this ~~ could have been this site!! ~~ but you can use contact lens cleaner in your emergency med bag. It can be used for flushing out wounds as it is sterile and in a squeeze bottle. No one in my family wears contacts but I will be buying some lens cleaner for that purpose.

    • Grannytraveler says:

      That is great info. Thanks for the heads up. I will definitely go buy some lens cleaner now for my first aid kit.

  7. I enjoyed your post Lynne. Thanks. You mention the cost of land is an issue. It was for us too. We found the area we wanted to live in and then began to drive the roads looking for “second” farms. In our area farms are standardly 100-200 acres, so farmers often own several. They need to maintain the houses on the second farms in order to maintain property values and so these houses are rented out. That is what we have done. We have rented a farm house with four acres and the out buildings, including the barns. We also have an option on the property. So we have invested some money into the house – updating the kitchen, plumbing, wiring and putting in internet. We have 2-1/2 acres for gardens – plenty for a family of three, space for chickens, a smoke house and an orchard. We could not have bought a house with all of that but it is a win for us and a win for the farmer who no longer has to worry about the house being trashed or people skipping out on the rent. The property is maintained and our rent for all that is under $1,000 per month for a six-bedroom house. It would be lovely to be able to afford a property but it won’t be happening any time soon in southern Ontario, and so this is the next best option.

    • Jennifer (Prepping Wife) says:

      This is a good concept but my husband and I have always wondered – what will happen when the owners want the property back after SHTF? You say you have an option on the property – but if you havent excerised it then you dont own it.

      I ask because my husband and I rent. We plan on bugging in if possible at all, our owners are in California, mid-southern california. I dont expect that we will have to worry about them coming up if thier were an EMP but in different situation, if they were trying to get away from LA folks migrating North and decided to “kick out the folks in the rental property up north” what would we do?

      Whats your plan? I’d love to hear your (and other wolf pack memebers) ideas!

      • Hi Jennifer I know this is not the answer you may be looking at but after the TSHTF possession will be 9/10 of the law. So if it was me I would tell them where to go at the end of a shotgun

        • Jennifer (Prepping Wife) says:

          Actually no, it was pretty much the answer I was looking for – wanted some confirmation – it would have to be pretty bad I think but we dont have anywhere else to go. My parents/sisters/friends refuse to listed to our prepping ways (we dont let on how prepped we are) so they dont have anything to contribute. We do have a bug out RV but that is a LAST resort.

        • SurvivorDan says:

          Indeed. They are trustworthy enough to stay and work with you to survive or they can get lost. They have to honor the terms of the lease or at least give proper notice. Will they stand around outside while the wheels of justice (if any are left) turn slowly?

      • Jennifer, if I were in your situation, I’d consider how to make the owners figure out fast that they want to keep you around as part of their team, and how to shelter your family if they wanted you to move out of the house (RV or travel trailer?).

        If you’ve got a good size garden and some animals and they don’t know how to garden or husband livestock, you’re bringing a lot to the table. If they’re in shock or disarray, a steady manager for the property is invaluable.

        • Jennifer (Prepping Wife) says:

          That’s really smart too – when we moved in the backyard was nothing but dirt. The owners told my husband “the backyard is your oyster” – he now has 6 garden beds, 5 of which produce food – one is just pretty with plants and flowers. We are not allowed/zoned to raise animals or else my husband would have chickens. =(

      • That is why we looked for second farms and not the primary farm property. Our landlords live on the primary farm, two concessions away. Their children are grown with their own farms and they also own four other farms. Our agreement includes a clause that if we are evicted for ANY reason (except non payment of rent) within the first ten years, then we must be fully compensated for any improvements we have made to the property. Also if we are evicted at ANY time to accomodate the landlord’s kin then the same level of compensation is required.

  8. Lynn nice I would like to make a suggestion DO NOT KEEP THE WATER IN THE CONTAINER IN WHICH THEY CAME IN, the water container are not make for long storage I suggest you save 2L pop or juice bottles, myself I like the color pop bottles or keep it out of the sun. Also keep checking food stores for food items you just add water they keep good even if its for microwave, all you need to do is just boiling water and let it set and it work as I did with ( Maruchan Yakisoba chicken flave noodles and next is kraft mac&cheese just add water I found it 6 pack in small bags.
    Next I not sure I can but I found this site very good for building a 72hr kit ( ) As for your other founds that is great I would also suggest for you do all you can to find All American Pressure Canner they are the best and no gasket to replace

    • Encourager says:

      Lonewolf, our root cellar has a dirt floor with about 4 inches of gravel over it. I went down to bring up some water only to find two completely empty bottles with sealed tops. There was a tiny hole in the bottom and they emptied themselves. Now I buy water only in the heavier bottles, such as Mountain Springs. I have never had those leak. BTW, took those empty but sealed bottles back to the store and got my money back!

      • Hi I did not know at Mountain Springs came it heavier bottles. Myself I don’t buy water I just use city water and as I said I use heavier pop and juice bottle and you can but some drink in gal bottle. I know that you do have them on shelf and not on the floor.
        The water we have here is not to bad, I fill the bottle and leave them set open for 24 to 48hrs. to let the chlorine get out, I learn that for the days of fish tanks I always had 4 or 5 gal setting around and yes its still good water, if you like you can make a Bio Sand filter here you can check this site out you don’t have the buy filters just make it later if you have any question feel free to cntact me later

  9. Thank you so much for all of your support and advice on the water and such! I really appreciate it. I never thought of throwing some of the contact solution in the first aid kit:) We are all set to make a down payment on a very small plot of land. Keep prepping and thanks again!!

  10. sells patterns for making maccasins.They also sells the hides if you want to learn how to make them before things get bad.

    • mississippi madman says:

      I’m a long time fan of crazy crow. Buckskin pants are very comfortable and warm in winter and its not difficult at all to make a pair. I always had trouble with the soles on the moccasins.

  11. As far as contact solution goes, it is sterile but has other chemicals in it. The best way to go is saline solution for contacts. No chemicals onlybut saline. My wife is an RN and Ive watched her clean wounds with it before with no problems.

  12. Just4Rselves says:

    My daughter, who is 11, wanted to go to the “mall” for her birthday. We never go to the mall, but all her friends said it was the best place to shop for clothes. Well, our family only shops for clothes at yard sales, Goodwill, or local resale shops. After looking around and looking at price tags, she was the first to comment on how rediculous the prices where and that when it came down to it, going to the mall was a waste of time. I am such a proud mother!

  13. Copperhead says:

    Good article, Lynn! Thanks for taking the time to do it…full of information.

  14. jr from ar says:

    Good article Lynn….Coupons are like free money so we all should jump on that. I shop garage sales every chance I get. Saturday morning I picked up a NEW red dot site for the AR for $15, a beautiful handmade wooden box with lid and brass trimming with a handcarved running buck deer for $20 and the seller threw in an old timer pocket knife and a six pack Coleman cooler…Shopping to save money is just smart. Great article

  15. Mary in GA says:

    Good article Lynn! Best wishes for your land purchase too!

  16. EB.Esquire says:

    Just went to CVS and they had buy $30 worth of paper towels, toilet paper, and Duracell batteries and get $10 of in rewards bucks, which I then used the rewards to buy a package diapers (also had $2 coupon), and there was also a rewards on that purchase, which I used to buy milk, deoderant, and brushes for my electric toothbrush. And I had coupons for all those things as well. All in all, I spent $35 and got a whole lot of stuff, and best of all, dirt cheap diapers.

    • Encourager says:

      Going to CVS tomorrow – and hope I do as well as you, E.B.! They have nuts on sale, for which I have a $1 coupon (3 of ’em), plus $5 extra cash coupon from CVS.

      • EB.Esquire says:

        If you coupon and watch their sales, you can really get some deals at CVS. I have walked out of there with 6 boxes of cereal for less than $12.

  17. Hunker-Down says:

    The knowledge you get from your grandparents is priceless. You are very fortunate to have such an opportunity. I wasted mine.

  18. Newbie prepper says:

    I am new to this site (and Prepping). My husband and I have been trying to come up with a WTSHTF kit. I am a big camper so we have a good amount of that stuff. I’m currently working on the piles and piles of beans and rice. …lol.

    I wanted to add another item to the medical/dental list. Some dental Floss, tools :mirror, explorer, scalers and extraction tools. Wiskey for the pain while extracting a tooth and some sutures should round out this kit. being in the dental field i think people don’t understand or remember what a really angry tooth feels like. Hope this helps with the list.
    (love the coupon idea Lynn)

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Tip: I have been experimenting with spices I don’t normally use like tarragon, tumeric, curry, basil, etc. to spice up my beans and rice staples. Blandness can lead to self induced starvation.

    • Newbie Prepper:

      Welcome. Remember sauces and gravy make rice and beans go a lot longer and taste better. Plus they are not very expensive.

    • Encourager says:

      Welcome to the Pack Newbie Prepper! Hey, we were ALL once beginners here! Some of the pack came with a lifestyle of prepping, others – like me, kinda started from scratch, only to realize how much we actually owned that fit the categories we were trying to fill. I need to ask my hygienist for some scalers for my med kit. Thanks for the reminder!

  19. SurvivorDan says:

    Good stuff. Sounds like you have a plan and keep plugging away at it.

    I went to Fryes to get a gallon of milk today and came back with 60 lbs of pasta ($0.39 per lb), 12 jars of peanut butter ($1.99 per), 6 lb salt ($0.47 per), 20 lb sugar ($1.99 per 4 lb bag).
    Gotta be prepared to buy the bargains when you see them.
    “Crazed prepper strips pasta off shelves!”

    • wow, SD, good bargains…sometimes am just going in for fresh bread rolls and end up with over $200 worth of great bargains too…agree 100% re ‘gotta be prepared to buy bargains when you see them’. cheers.

  20. I occasionally glance at coupons, but never see anything worth getting. I do look at price per weight and practice buying cheap and getting an extra when it is cheaper.

    I guess it’s an attitude of not needing certain things. Special disposable pads for floor cleaning is a first-world item and not sustainable, also unnecessary if you have cotton yarn and the ability to knit up and keep washing a reusable pad. Considering that I don’t use adult diapers, do I really need more than one package, especially when I’m probably going to be out among the zombies in less than a year after a fan event.

  21. Good article. One of my favorite subjects…”Thrift”! Thrift is a necessity for me, and I’ve found a few acceptable ways to practice it. I use coupons from newspapers and have rewards programs with Office Max, Staples, CVS, and some other stores.

    I’d like to add that CVS has a deal, that if you buy one of their ‘cloth’ bags, and get a little tag, you get cents credit in your rewards acct for using it when you shop at CVS. I keep mine right in the front of my truck, and grab it every time I go to there.

    Also, CVS has been carrying individual bandage pads, as well as other such things for 99 cents each. A great way to add just what you need to a first aid kit. However, the last time I went in, the inventory was low, and they were on clearance sale, so I don’t know if they’ll continue carrying them. It would be worth checking out though. I have bought several large non-stick pads, which can be cut to size for wounds, for 99 cents each. A deal really.

    I also do ‘surveys’ online, and have gotten quite a few good things that way. I only use,, and My research and trial of other survey sites has led me to feeling these 3 are the only worthwhile and HONEST ones. I’ve gotten gift cards for gasoline and various stores, as well as hard goods. I’ve done this for about 8 years. It takes some time, but staying with my father and not working, I’ve had plenty of that. You have to give up some personal info to do these, but I’ve been ok with that so far. I use a PO box as my address…in another city…and just pick up my mail when I go there.

    Along with knowledge of how to make and do things ourselves, thrift info is the best!

  22. Someone posted about a site for making mocassins….here’s another NA ‘how to’ site. Much good info here.

  23. One product worth keeping around is Tool Dip ! No kidding ! besides its intended use of putting a flexible plastic handle on your bare metal tools , its liquid plastic , that means its 100% waterproof , its also very thin when used with a brush so it goes on easily and you can controle how thick you want it to be , stays flexible and tough as nails , will go on any surface . You can paint it on things to make them scuff and scrape resistant , to protect frayed or damaged areas of your gear , you can even make an emergency gasket if you needed to . I use it for all of the above but mainly for waterproofing . Small containers that would normally be subject breaking if dropped on say cement or a rock ………..paint some of that on them and they are pretty armored .

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